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    Living With Pain

    Some people with chronic pain are seeking help from pain management specialists.

    Treating Pain

    Penney Cowan remembers all too well how terrible she felt the first six of the 30 years she's endured fibromyalgia. "I was completely nonfunctional," she says. "I was afraid, didn't know anything, and was blindly going forward hoping someone's got the magic bullet for me."

    As Cowan realized, however, there is no perfect solution for her pain. So she decided to learn as much as she could about dealing with the discomfort. Her active involvement not only eased her misery, but also inspired her to establish the American Chronic Pain Association, a group dedicated to educating healthcare professionals and the general public about pain management.

    From her experience, Cowan says people who take an active role in their treatment tend to have better quality of life, reduce their sense of suffering, and feel more empowered. Strategies she recommends for active learners include seeking a well-qualified pain specialist or program and looking up information about medication and treatment from reliable sources such as The Cleveland Clinic.

    Experts say it's also helpful to know that relief may come from one or a mix of strategies, which can include medication, physical therapy, surgery, and/or psychological therapy. Seeking a pain specialist is reportedly only one part of a comprehensive solution.

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    Reviewed on January 30, 2003

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